This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
This seems to be a leading topic now-a-days. 1 beg to protest against the style that has been adopted by some of our zealous cultivators. I do not object to their saying all they think of their own pet variety, but I do to their running down every thing else.
A Philadelphia gentleman lately stated at one of our Society meetings, that in that centre of the world certain ordinary varieties were considered " unfit for human food." Myself and family having been in the habit of using them by the peck, and never having experienced any of the frightful effects depicted as produced by them, I beg to differ from him, and to say that 1 like these Pariahs, and do not acknowledge his right to impeach my judgment for doing so. A Jew may think me a Goth because 1 like pork, an Englishman because I don't like mutton, and the gentleman from 'Philadelphia because 1 relish other grapes than Black Hamburghs; but that is merely their opinion. 1 think individual taste has its rights in this matter.
I have nothing to say against Black Hamburghs - far from it - but would rather take home twenty pounds of ripe, well-grown Isabellas or Catawbas, and let the youngsters have a feast, than a couple of bunches of the others to squabble over. True, I might take the twenty pounds of Hamburghs - if? - I could afford it. If I can not, must I do without grapes % The gentleman might as well tell me that if I can not afford superfine black I must go without breeches. He put me in mind of the princess, who thought the people were very foolish to starve to death: "rather than do that she would have eaten dry bread." The idea that any one might not be able to invest in a liberal supply of Black Hamburghs never seemed to strike him; he spoke with contempt of these common grapes because they were sold so low. Wishing to see good fruit of all kinds so cheap that the laboring classes can freely indulge in it, and believing, as I do, that the raising it for this plebeian market will pay as well as other farm crops, I can not enter into his feelings.
I go for elevating the cultivator of the soil as much as possible, but do not conceive that the time has yet arrived to put even only Pennsylvania under glass.
Believe, if 1 had an abundance of many varieties, I should partake of all in turn.
Roast quail is more delicate than roast beef: ergo, beef is, not worth eating.
Trout is more recherche than cod: codfish - avaunt.
[The gentleman from Philadelphia certainly did take very decided ground against our native grapes, and anathematized them in round, hearty terms, not very palatable to those accustomed to eating Isabellas and Catawbas. We endeavored at the time to present some facts tending to modify his views, and think we partially succeeded. We predict, however, that when he shall have become better acquainted with our native grapes in their best condition, he will commend them in as hearty terms as he now condemns them. Unripe fruit of all kinds we condemn; but ripe grapes, the native equally with the foreign, we esteem pre-eminently conducive to health: let all eat them as freely as they may. We think we express the opinion of all who have eaten grapes freely when we say, that we never feel better than when we eat four or five pounds of natives daily. Some of the effects described by our friend from Philadelphia may possibly result from eating unripe grapes, but they would follow in the case of the foreign as surely as in that of the native.
Now native grapes are frequently gathered and eaten when scarcely more than half ripe; foreign grapes are very seldom taken from the vine until they are quite ripe; hence our friend may have sometimes seen ill effects from eating the former; but this would hardly warrant his deduction, that native grapes are not fit to be eaten, any more than that foreign grapes are not fit to be eaten, since the same effects would follow from eating unripe foreign grapes. We have been in the habit of eating freely of both kinds, and candor compels us to say that both are refreshing and conducive to health: Muscats and Hamburghs, Delawares and Dianas, are fit even for princes to eat, one. equally with the other. The native, however, will always be the grape for the masses, and our wish is, that all may be enabled to partake of it freely. - Ed].
Their Culture And Management Adapted To The Climate Of America - To Which Is Added Directions For The Construction Of Cheap Houses For Fruiting The Same.
That the culture of fruit trees in pots is destined to become popular in America, it requires no far-seeing mind to discern. In a climate remarkable for its sudden changes from heat to cold, a method by which the tender blossoms may be guarded against untimely checks, is sure to meet with many advocates. This system is now creating a furor in England, where such houses have been experimented with during the last ten years, and the increasing demand for them more clearly proves than any other demonstration, their merits and advantages. In this country the prob -abilities are, that they will not only be ornaments to the grounds of the wealthy, but also a source of revenue to the market gardener; the cheapness with which the necessary structures can be erected, and the simplicity they can be managed with, will do much to popularize the taste for this mode' of gardening. Add to this, the facts of the now almost complete abandonment of the apricot, plum, and nectarine, on account of the ravages of the curculio, and the growing fondness of the American people for rural homes, and we think we are justified in predicting almost a mania for this species of horticulture. The latter reason alone will do much for it.
American tastes are rapidly becoming identified with country life, and slowly but surely we are following in the footsteps of our English ancestors. Persons who, some years since, were satisfied with a few weeks' residence in the country, now pass as many months; and many whose pursuits have allowed them, now make their permanent homes where they formerly were temporary sojourners. Additional comforts have had much to do with effecting this change. Gas and water were formerly only to be had by the citizens of the towns. The introduction of rams, windmills, and other popular modes of raising water in country houses, has put many of their inhabitants in possession of superior water accommodations over their city friends. No more are the winter evenings in rural homes made dismal by the absence of the cheerful illuminating rays of the town gas. The facilities by which the towns can now be reached have also had a considerable share in hastening the exodus: transient travellers are continually on the increase.
These are among the varied inducements that are making country homes yearly more sought after. It is to this class of inhabitants, the owners of small estates in the neighborhood of the cities, that the claims of this method of fruit culture present themselves. Any one living on half an acre of ground can have put up one of these glass-roofed structures, in which can be as well ripened a crop of fruits as in the most costly crystal palace. To the renter, pot culture presents a mode of growing fruits by which, should he see fit to change his residence on a few hours' notice, he can remove his house and trees, and in his new home at the proper season can gather the luscious fruits. Many who have hitherto been deterred from planting fruit trees on account of the license allowed by law to depredators, now that they have a method by which their treasures may be guarded, will embark in this new system. The retiring citizen need not now wait a lifetime for his fruit crop, but may resonably hope to be permitted to gather of the golden fruit which he directs his gardener to have properly cared for.
The Glass-Roofed Fruit Shed can be constructed in a very simple manner, at a very small cost. The form may vary to suit the taste of the proprietor. We give our preference to the lean-to, as being more easily managed and more simple in its construction. It may be of any length desired; but as regards height, it will have to be borne in mind that it is necessary that the leaves should be near the glass; therefore the proposed dimensions should be taken, as they will give more advantages at the same money than any other: they will be seen to be very nearly the same recommended by Mr. Rivars in his admirable treatise. Should a shed fifty feet long be desired, we mark out the ground fifty feet by thirteen wide, designing to construct a sunk walk in the centre two feet wide and one foot deep, thus leaving a border on each side of five feet six inches, in which the potted trees are to be plunged. The back row of posts should be of cedar or chestnut, eleven feet long, and sunk three feet at least in the ground, and placed five feet apart. If the part intended to be put in the soil is previously well charred, the durability of the posts will be thereby increased.
The front row of posts should be in a parallel line, and thirteen feet from the back ones; should be put the same distance in the ground, and allowed to project three feet above the surface. The posts at each end for the door* will be all the posts required. Before planting, the outside of each should be squared. On top of the front and back rows, plates for the rafters to rest on must be firmly spiked. Hemlock three by fours make substantial plates. To the back, front, and side posts may be nailed, plowed and grooved flooring boards; they make a good back, and the joints are sufficiently open to admit some air. The roof may be made of two by four hemlock rafters placed five feet apart, firmly braced to the back and front plates, having between them white pine strips two inches by one inch, on each of which, as well as in the rafters, grooves must be plowed to let the glass rest on. These strips can be very cheaply got out at any saw-mill. Ten by twelve fourth quality glass, lapped over half an inch, makes a tight roof of good appearance. Such a shed can be constructed by any person at a very small cost. If it is desired to build cheaply, avoid carpenters: between the cutting of the wood to waste, half working, and general ignorance, a large bill is made in a short time.
If money be not an object with the builder, more handsomely finished houses may be had, but not better adapted for the purpose required.
To build cheaply, get the posts out of the woods in rough days in winter; have them charred, squared, and ready to go into the ground whenever weather permits. A short time only is required to spike the wall plates on to the'front and back rows of posts, and nail on the flooring boards; being jointed, they fit readily, and present a good appearance externally. Your rafters and pine strips come from the steam sash-shop all ready for the glass; the house can be glazed during mild days in winter. A half sash door, for each end, can be cheaply had, or one of rough construction will answer equally as well and be cheaper.